The alleged murder this weekend of a young mother, Heavenly Terveus, allegedly by a person known and close to her, has sent emotional shock waves throughout the Englerston community and beyond. Personally horrified by this inexplicable tragedy, I extend heartfelt condolences to the family of the deceased.
This incident has thrust the vexing social issue of domestic abuse and gender-based violence back into the forefront of our national dialogue.
Yet again social media is replete with commentary by colleagues of the victim on first hand accounts about unhealthy relationship warning signs, rumors of domestic abuse and threats and acts of intimidation intended to silence those who dared to act and speak up for the victim.
As I have publicly said before, these narratives are too late if publicized after the fact. We have a young woman who lost her life well before her prime; a young man who is fighting for his life; a baby who lost her mother; the lives of the families of both the deceased and the assailant are turned inside down; and a community is left in shock.
The collateral damage – psychological, emotional social – is incalculable.
What is clear is that all of the goodwill and well-intentioned efforts of the family and friends of Ms. Terveus to sound the public alarm that something was amiss were not enough to get Heavenly the requisite help and support she needed that would have ultimately saved her life.
We must do more in being our brother’s and sister’s keepers in sounding the alarm in these circumstances.
I would be remiss if I did not raise the issue of parental leadership in the wake of this tragedy. As characters and value systems are formed, shaped and nurtured in the home, I call for stronger parental leadership as regards the manner in which our young boys and men are socialized to interact with and treat our young girls and women. The level of recorded abuse of and violence against our girls and women points to a sharp deficit in parental leadership. As a society, we must work together to fix this.
Further, institutions of the state have to become more proactively intrusive in the personal lives and affairs of our citizens, especially when and where there is evidence that the health, wellness, personal safety and security of our children and women at risk, in peril and under threat.
We must continue to use our collective voices (including NGO’s and civil society), to bring greater public awareness to this social scourge while we aggressively agitate for stronger public and social policy measures to stamp out domestic abuse and gender-based violence.
We cannot continue to be muted bystanders who suffer in silence while this evil proliferates around us.